For the Love of Russia

Watching “Russia’s Toughest Prisons” on Netflix. Not exactly the typical thing to watch, but my love of Russia won out and I started it. It is interesting to see the way in which prisoners of another country are treated and managed. And we’re only at prison #1 right now, Black Dolphin…the strongest in Russia, near the Kazakhstan border.

However interesting it may be, it is also extremely disheartening. This is the Russia that is shown to the world, America in particular. And it’s the only Russia that’s shown.

Shows like this are very likely what causes the majority of my peers to think I’m insane for wanting to go to Russia. Here, it appears deadly, terrifying, and cold–in a number of ways. Yet, I find myself fascinated with the Russians’ hardiness, shall we say, for survival. Even the deadly killers and cannibals seem far more dignified than those in the States. Also, they’re showing all the prisons in the dead of winter (50 below 0 weather)…much more daunting than Russia in spring/summer.

Facts from the show:
Russia has a murder rate that is 5x higher than that in the United States.
Russia prison tattoos are some of the most famous; Classic tattoos were used to create an identity, and more recent transitions (80s on) show the duality of light and dark.


Finding Faith in the ‘Faithless’

I just finished watching Blue Like Jazz, and I must say while it’s under the Comedy section on Netflix that seems ill-fitting.

Yes there were plenty of humorous scenes, instances, and anecdotes. The characters are colorful and make for some funny interactions. But, it was so much more than that. Technically it’s labeled under Drama as well…which in reality makes more sense in my head.

Given my recent reading into Paganism, or nature centered religions, it definitely struck home to some extent. While I didn’t grow up Baptist, Catholic, any other kind of Christian or Pagan, the framework is still adequately applicable.

As a child we believe in something–be it fairies, vampires, Greek mythology, or Christian scripture. We believe this to be true, without an ounce of doubt. Sometimes because we’ve not yet learned to question such beliefs, and other times because we feel that there is something unique to each of us within that context. The hard part is sometimes admitting to that faith, to not letting it go due to societal norms or the pressures we feel as young adults.

I would just like to say, from one non-religious person to a whole lot of varied internet goers, don’t be ashamed of YOUR beliefs. Even if they’re viewed as different or weird. If your friends and family don’t agree or simply aren’t totally on board. They are yours, and only yours, to decide. We all live different experiences and through those come to know a slightly different version of g(G)od(s), and that is perfectly acceptable and in my opinion, my fantastic. And if you’re of a Christian faith…doubting and questioning are natural, healthy reactions to all things. Just because you may not adhere 115% to your religion’s doctrines or trust its scripture doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned faith.

Dump Day: Netherland

“Modern day Great Gatsby”–that’s what a review had described this as, which is what prompted me to purchase it. I love Gatsby, so how could this be passed up?

It could have been and my life would be no worse, in fact it might be better had I not read this.

Honestly, I’m not sure how it’s anything like The Great Gatsby, aside from the fact that they’re both set in New York City. I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to be about exactly. There’s a guy and he spends a lot of time talking about or referring to cricket.

Hans, the main guy, isn’t interesting. At all. He sort of just bumbles through thoughts and the city and interactions in the most disingenuous way that, as a reader, makes you feel nothing for him or his situation.

Unless you have to read it for a college class, it’s part of your book club, or you just really love cricket–skip it.

Dump Day: The Dharma Bums

On the Road was great. I fell in deep, unashamed love with Kerouac when I read that. But in The Dharma Bums, I fell a little out of love.

I bought a Selected Novels edition from Borders (bless their soul) when they went out of business in my town. I was so excited that I told myself I was going to read them all, consecutively and it would be pure reading magic.

After On the Road was finished I was even more certain of this reading magic. Once I got to the end of The Dharma Bums, the magic was gone.

While it still has the same voice and writing style as On the Road, it wasn’t nearly as engaging or entertaining. There was great imagery and I certainly ‘got’ the ideas and feelings being expressed, but what was once love for the supplanting of real life of Kerouac things became an annoyance.

Reading, or even hearing about, the spiritual journeys of others is often fascinating and something I’d definitely be into. And I thought this venture into Zen Buddhism would even more definitely be something I’d dig. Still a good book, just wound up a little disappointing and left me laying my Kerouac to rest on the shelf for awhile.

Scarlet, Finished!

Finally finished Book 2 of the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead. I must say I definitely waded through it, nothing swift about it. On to Book 3! Hopefully it’s a little more fast paced and doesn’t have annoying third person references to the main character. Since it’s based around Friar Tuck it will, perhaps, be a little funny too.

A link to the review should be posted later today, or tomorrow, at I’ll also post a link here too!